Damaged trees and debris from tornado near Winterset. (RI photo)

Both of Iowa’s U.S. Senators and two Iowa congresswomen are asking for answers and upgrades after reports of technical delays in the National Weather Service warnings of severe storms that killed seven Iowans earlier this month.

Congresswomen Cindy Axne of West Des Moines and Ashley Hinson of Marion have written the acting director of the National Weather Service. They’re asking for an explanation of the problem in the Dallas/Fort Worth office that delayed release of Iowa tornado warnings on March 5. Axne and Hinson say “the delays are unacceptable and addressing them should be the highest priority.”

Iowa Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are co-sponsoring a bill to update forecasting technology and communications equipment in the National Weather Service.

The delays in tornado warnings on March 5 were due primarily to a damaged fiber optic cable. National Weather Service staff came up with a work around and a warning that a tornado was likely to hit near Winterset was issued 20 minutes in advance.